Breaking Out of My Cage

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As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be white.  Since I was a born a Hindu, I believed in reincarnation. I hoped that I would be born into a white family in my next life. 

Was it because of white privilege?  I didn’t know what that meant as a kid, but it definitely was a privilege I was seeking.  The privilege of being free. 

I know that Canada is a free country. But what does that mean for a Tamil girl growing up in an orthodox family?  Absolutely nothing.

My parents are the typical “what will society say” kind of people.  It wasn’t that they didn’t care for my happiness. They just cared for society’s a tad bit more.  I use the present tense because (spoiler alert) they haven’t changed. 

You know the saying “Old habits die hard”? The habit of worrying about our community’s perception of your life is a never ending story.  It’s almost like the Tamil community owns my life’s shares and has a say in every move I make and every breath I take.  I’ve had enough.

As with most Tamil kids growing up in a family as strict as mine, I began saying little lies to get out of the house.  To be fair, I’m sure my parents had done their fair share of lying to their parents too. 

It was one of those lies that got me into huge trouble during my final year of high school.  I’m going to share this anecdote with you only so you don’t make the same stupid mistake I made.

My friends wanted to go to Canada’s Wonderland as a graduation trip.  I had to lie to my family saying that it was a school trip.  At my school, the admin staff would phone home if we missed class.  To avoid this, I had a friend call the school, pretend to be my dad and claim that I wouldn’t be there due to illness. 

Here’s where the plan failed spectacularly. Instead of calling and leaving a message, my friend decided to call once more and made sure he spoke to someone directly.  This raised the suspicion of the office staff, who then decided to call my home directly and confirm that I was ill. 

Of course, to my family’s knowledge I was on a school trip. The school stated there was no such thing.  Long story short, I got in trouble both at home and with the Vice-Principal.  Lesson learned – do not lie!

If you had asked me back in Grade 12, I would have blamed my parents for this because they were too strict on me.  But I’ve grown to realize that my parents only did what they did because they were worried. 

You have to remember that your parents don’t hate you or intentionally try to rip your happiness away.  They are from a different country, upbringing and environment.  For some people, it just takes time. Others may never understand life abroad.  Communication is a huge concern for a lot of Tamil parents.  If you can sit your parents down and tell them what you need to make yourself happy, they might understand. 

Editors-Note

I won’t give you false hope and say that this will absolutely work, because it still hasn’t with my parents. But it’s definitely worth a shot.  Little by little, you can change their minds. They’ll finally come to realize how little society’s opinions influence your happiness. 

I won’t say that my parents have not changed at all, because they’ve made a huge turnaround from how protective they used to be.  I am allowed to go out without asking for permission now and to me that’s huge.

I now realize that they had to do what they did to protect me from all the evil in this world. And to be honest, I am grateful for the way they raised me.  Obviously, there are many things I hope to change from my upbringing. But it has shaped me into who I am today, and I think I turned out pretty solid.  However, society still plays a factor in my life. One day, I believe we can break that tradition and begin to live life the way we want it.

As a Kiru’s Corner YouTuber, my first step in world domination was to make videos addressing these issues. 

One of the popular videos on this topic is called Vicissitude, where a young girl is forced into marriage because society thinks she’s too old to not be married.  First, they meddle with your school grades. Then, it’s “which university?” As soon as school’s done it’s “when are you getting married?” and after that it’s “when are you popping out kids?” 

So when my child grows up and asks me, “why did you decide to have me mom?” I’m going to tell him, “we had to have you – the neighbours were talking!”  As funny as it may be, it’s pathetic.  We should be the ones to decide what and when we want to do things in life. 

Let’s work together to break this normal life routine that’s pushed by our community. Let’s ensure that we don’t follow their ways and carry it into our future.  As unrealistic as this may sound, you never know until you try. 

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “it starts with one.”

Related articles:
Why Are Tamil Parents So Embarrassing?
Letter from a Father to my Tamil-Canadian Children
Strangers Under One Roof: A Story of a Tamil Father and Son
8 Things Tamil Mothers Should Teach Their Sons
The Making and Breaking of Tamil Women

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Author

Kirunthuja Srikanth

Kirunthuja Srikanth

Just an everyday girl with dreams so big that it goes beyond the face of this earth. To make some of those dreams come true, I make videos on Youtube all the while trying to keep it real!

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2 thoughts on “Breaking Out of My Cage

  1. A recurring theme on TamilCulture is the cultural rift between Tamil parents and children in the Western diaspora.

    Tamil parents in the diaspora need to work harder to understand the generational gap. Their children did not ask to be born in this situation, and we look to our parents for guidance.

    Children are not trophies – they are children. The burden of explaining and resolving the gap should not fall entirely upon them even though the parental generation seems to think so most of the time.

    Sometimes I, too, think my parents only cared about what other people in the community thought rather than what I wanted. I only realized this when I got to see how white and brown parents raise their kids. Like the author, I often wished I would have been better off getting adopted by white people instead.

    Tamil parents have got to stop giving a crap what the community thinks about them. Focus on your kids’ happiness, not what some neighbour thinks. All this BS about how one appears to the community has to stop.

  2. I don’t know, there are advantages and disadvantages to being brought up in the tamil community and being brought up in a typical white western environment. Yes some tamil households are very strict. Some overly so, and yes this leads to resentment among the children. Yet most reasonable parents give some freedom and some boundaries. I grew up in the west as a tamil and saw that my classmates did not necessarily have a better life than mine. In the west it is all about freedom and the individual and children often suffer neglect as one or other parent wants to “find themselves” which means trying to avoid responsibility for their children. They look enviously on at stable family environments, where both parents work, there is plenty of money for the things that matter, and both mother and father put the children first than their own needs. Marriage, children etc are a lot of hard work.

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